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Posts Tagged ‘divorce’

Trust is a funny thing. I don’t know about other countries, but here in America where divorce rates are high and break up rates are even higher, many people will openly state that they have “trust issues”. Simply stated, they find it hard to trust people. Typically when one states that they have trust issues, they are referring to their lack of trust in the opposite sex. However, this isn’t always the case. Some people have over all trust issues in that it is hard for them to trust anyone.

I certainly fall into this last category. Through my life circumstances, I find it difficult to trust anyone. Ironically, I mentioned my lack of trust in my former article, Moving On. I have had some great things happen lately by the goodness of others and it was really starting to help me re-establish my trust in human kind. Then, just a few days later, the trust is broken once again. Among other things, I caught a close friend in a pretty substantial lie. She hasn’t spoken to me since I confronted her about it which simply makes me shake my head that much more.

I have been contemplating as to why it is that we lie to each other and I can not come up with an answer that justifies the lie. In the above mentioned circumstance, I know that my friend lied to me in order to not hurt my feelings. Truthfully, my feelings would not have been hurt if she had come out and told me the truth. I am puzzled as to why she felt that she needed to lie instead of just be honest. Is this an American culture or a human trait?  Why do we feel the need to lie to each other instead of just being honest and telling it like it is? It is possible to tell the truth using tact, isn’t it?

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As the new year begins, many of us find ourselves reflecting on the past year. I’m not one to make new year’s resolutions, but I am one to reflect. 2009 was a hard year and I am optimistic that 2010 will be much better. I struggled with depression last year in degrees that I have not dealt with since I left my physically, emotionally, and verbally abusive marriage in 2000. I saw myself as worthless and wondered why, instead of being the “miracle” that survived my health, I didn’t just die. I felt that my children didn’t really need me, nor did my job, nor anyone nor anything for that matter. I am not writing in hopes of getting your sympathy, I don’t want it. My life is what it is, the past, the present the future. I strongly believe that all things happen for a reason although we often do not know what that reason is. I write because writing is healing and I am healing.

I could tell you of all of the ups and downs of the past year, the trials, the tribulations, but in the end, it does not matter. What matters is that we survived it. I found myself feeling thankful during this Christmas season. Money is tight, I have hospital bills that I can not pay, collectors calling, most of the gifts that I gave this year were used and did not cost me anything, yet they looked new and my son did not know the difference. I have a home, I have heat, I have a steady job, and I have family and friends that have blessed me. One of these days, I might be able to fully trust those in my life and lean on them as I once did. I wonder why it is that once trust has been broken, it is so hard to re-establish. I am hard pressed to name two people in my life that I fully trust and I find that to be a sad thing. There is no reason for me not to trust others in my life, they have done nothing to cause the lack of trust that I suffer from and I know that, yet I still am unable to trust them. I wait for the day that they will sabotage our friendship and I know this is a pathetic truth. I also know why my trust issues run so deep and where they stem from. Perhaps that is a good thing, but sadly, it makes no difference.

My motto in life has become, “Fake it until you make it.” I’ve told a few people this and they look at me with a puzzled, quizzical smile upon their face. I don’t think they know whether or I am jesting or being genuine. I am genuine. I find that I have “faked” it through most of my life. I’ve put on that mask to disguise the real me. The mask that smiles, is optimistic and generally finds the good in things. The real me is cynical, doubtful, and constantly waiting for the bad to happen. I do love to smile, laugh and joke around, so one of these days I hope that the “fake it me” becomes the real me. I guess she’s in there under all of the baggage.

I did not mean for this post to be a negative one, just a reflective one. If you have made it this far, thanks for “listening”. Here’s to a year of healing!

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Ultimately, isn’t this what we are all looking for? That incredible relationship where we are so in love that we can not imagine our lives without that special someone? I know I am looking for it, but the difference is that I have once felt this in love. Like many, my love ended in a divorce. We were married young – 18 and 19 years old. We had been married for four years and had a baby. Something was going on with him and I can only guess as to what, but the reality is that one day, I came home to discover his things packed and he was standing before me zipping up his coat. This was goodbye to the life that I knew.

That happened fifteen years ago. Given the time, many would assume that I am bitter, but I am not. In fact, he and I are now very good friends. Although we don’t see each other often, we give genuine hugs when we do and inquire about each other and each other’s families. We have a child together and will forever be a part of each other’s lives.

During the past fifteen years, I have focussed on me. I have gone back to school and received my bachelor’s degree, I returned again and received my master’s degree, I have a career, I have purchased my first home, I have made two major moves, and most importantly, I have discovered who I am. I have my own hopes and dreams these days and I am perfectly content in being me. This is a lesson that I wish I could share with all women.

I was raised that women should be at home raising their children and supporting their husbands. Within that belief system, I put my life on hold so that I could take care of my husband and support him in his dreams – all while burying my own. I thought I was nothing without a man. Oh how wrong I was.

I am not a feminist or an advocate for being single, I just know that I am not willing to settle. I want the man that is best for me, or no man at all. Many people search for that special someone that will complete them. I am already a complete person. I am looking for that special man that will compliment me, and I will compliment him. I hope to find him one of these days, but if not, I will enjoy this life of mine. Being single does not mean being lonely. I do not understand why so many people think that way. Perhaps they are simply afraid to discover who they really are.

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It’s been a tough year, a year of survival and many, many challenges. In my years of teaching, this has hands down been the worst year ever. I could go on and on about what made the year so tough, but it is a long list and not easily stated. I’ve had my eyes on the end all year. It has been my focus. Survival and the ability to make it to the end. 

I don’t know how to put these things into words because it is such a hodgepodge of feelings and thoughts. You see, having had to focus on the end all year, I thought for sure I would be happy once the end finally arrived. Friday was the end to my year with my students and it isn’t a happy feeling after all. I am happy that we (my teaching team, the students and I) all made it, but I am not happy to say goodbye to these kids. I will walk into my empty classroom on Monday to finish packing up for summer and posting grades. It will hurt my heart to walk into that empty classroom. The desks are stacked, the student’s self portraits are down, art work and student papers have been removed. The classroom is practically bare and ready for the next group of kids. 

Recently I looked out my classroom door and noticed that there were about 30 5th graders hanging around talking. I opened the door and loudly and sternly shouted, “GO HOME!!!” A look of horror fell upon the face of nearby adults and siblings were startled to hear a teacher yell like that. The 5th graders, however, had a completely different reaction. They turned, saw it was me, and immediately came to me for a group hug and casual conversation. They knew that I was not serious and laughed at me stating, “Oh Ms. H.” It was funny to watch this unfold. I knew that the kids would know right away that I was kidding. I had not anticipated the reaction of others. I knew that they would wonder about it, but I didn’t expect their looks of horror, followed with a quizzical glimpse and then smile upon smile. 

I taught about ten of my 33 students last year as well. It is especially tough to say goodbye to those kids. We have deep bonds and most of them I am somewhat involved with their family as well. This year, I have helped students work through social issues, I have been a shoulder to cry on for several students who found their parents divorcing, other students had parents in and out of the hospital, a mother had cancer and I was a part of the diagnosis, the chemo and the radiation treatments. The student brought in the device that was inserted into her mother for chemo treatments. I was there (in the student and family’s life) when Mom was diagnosed and I was involved when Mom had her very last treatment over a year later. I was a part of the life of a child that walked out of the courthouse with only the clothes on his back into his mother’s care. The school was able to provide clothing until Mom was able to get all that she needed. I went to baseball games, softball games and birthday parties. I listened as they talked to me about their latest crushes and shared who their current boyfriend or girlfriend was. I watched the physical transformation from child to young adult. I listened to children cry that they don’t like their Mom or their Dad and why they felt that way. I received hug after hug after hug. A known gang member began to call me Mommy and continued to do so all year long. He was insistent that I was his “other mother.” Together, we laughed and we cried and today I realize just how very attached I am to these students. They are amazing kids and I love them. I hate to see them go. 

I laugh with my kids, I share with my kids and I cry with my kids. They are so deeply rooted into my life. I couldn’t help but tell a few of them that I love them as we said our final goodbyes. I don’t usually let myself express love to my kids. Occasionally I find myself giving a kiss on the forehead, but this year, I knew that I had to tell some of them that I love them. I knew that the craziness of their home-life and the raging hormones of a pre-teen left some of them wondering if anyone loved them and I could not let them leave without hearing me say that yes, I really do love you. 

How can I not be sad to see these kids go? Kids that know that when I “yell” I am only playing. Kids that know they can get a hug from me at anytime, kids that like to stand around and talk to me about nothing. Kids that have opened up and let me fully and completely into their lives. Goodbye guys. I WILL miss you!

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The Dating World

As many people know, dating in your mid to late 30s on up is a whole different ball game. Add in there divorce and children, and the dynamics change that much more. In my dating escapades, I tend to meet men who are looking to get married and they want children. Their reasoning for the children is usually one of two: either they screwed it up so badly the first time that they want to see what it’s like to be an involved father or; they have never had children and they want to. 

My dating philosophy is nothing like this. I have a 15 year old and an 8 year old. I am done having children. I first married at 18 years old and as such, I have never had any “me” time. I am looking forward to the time when my children are raised and I can enjoy life for myself. Selfish, but true. 

Secondly, I am not looking to get married. Ultimately, it would probably be nice, but it isn’t what I am looking for. I simply want a relationship. I want to find a man that I enjoy being with, we are in a monogamous relationship, but he has his life and I have mine. When things line up, we are together, but when they don’t, we are fine with that, too. He has his home, I have mine. Surprisingly, this has proven very difficult to find. 

One such relationship ended about two years ago and not on very good terms. Although we had only been dating for a few months, he was looking to get married yet couldn’t admit it. He was hinting at having me clean his house and was trying to come over to my home on a daily basis for me to cook for him. This was not and is not what I want. I already have children, I am not looking to take care of anyone else. It needs to be a two way street. Anyway, that finally put an end to the relationship and it ended pretty sourly. It wasn’t ugly and we didn’t fight, but he definitely knew where I stood. 

Within a few weeks, he was proclaiming that he had “met the love of (his) life” and that they were “planning (their) lives together”. Yay. More power to them and proof that I was right. Anyway, as things would have it, he is now doing business with a colleague. My paths don’t cross with this person often and I’m embarrassed to admit that I don’t even know her name and furthermore, I don’t remember his last name. Yet, upon discovering that we work together, he asked her to tell me hi. I am so puzzled by this. Truth be told, if the tables were turned, I would have never brought him up to her. 

From the sounds of it, not only did he marry the “love of his life,” he has also divorced her. Within two years of dating me, breaking up, finding the love of his life, and marrying her, he has also managed to divorce her. “Wow” is the only word that manages to escape me. How do I manage to find these men?

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So, he contacted the state to get child support lowered. This is all fine and dandy. It is what it is. The state is involved because from day one, he refused to pay child support, thus the need to garnish. Since child support was established and re-established, nearly 7 years have passed. I have a steady income, more than I did 7 years ago, and no longer have child care expenses since my son hangs in my classroom with me after school. That being said, I expected child support to drop. What I did not expect was for it to decrease by 75%. 

Here are some facts:
1. He is a known liar. The first time around, he lied about his income by nearly $20,000.
2. He does seasonal work (construction) so in down seasons, he lives on unemployment. 
3. This is down season which means he is living on unemployment (and it should start picking up again real soon).
4. The state only holds you accountable for 1 month of pay stubs. That being said, as long as he has been on unemployment for about a month, that is the only income that he needs to claim. Not even the 2008 taxes are considered in this.  
5. He is telling the state that he only makes $24,000 a year. In 2002, his taxable income (yep, only his taxable income) was over $50,000. Do we really believe that in the last 7 years his income has decreased by nearly half rather than increase? He has been with the same company for 27 years, working his way up the ladder. 
6. The state calculates parenting time into the figures. The more you see your child, the less you pay. Since the original documents specify parenting time, he is credited for having our son for nearly 100 days out of the year. In actuality, he has not seen our son in over 3 years…since December 2005.  He made plans in Dec 2007 and canceled the night before. He hasn’t called in over a year. Before that, calls were random at best. No Christmas or birthday gifts, let alone phone calls, notes, cards, etc. So he gets credit for seeing his son even though he doesn’t.  
7. I have not been able to find anything that either directly says or implies that layoffs have occurred.  

Looks like I am going to have to hire a lawyer just to make sure that child support is fairly calculated. This sucks. If only I could trust him to be honest, but honesty has never been one of his traits. Had I only realized that before I married him.

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Strength. It’s such a funny word. Usually when we hear the word strength, we immediately think of the physical aspect. However, I believe that inner strength is much more important and we manage to find that strength in the strangest of places. 

Until my divorce at the young age of 22 (married at 18), I was the submissive woman that I was raised to be. The man ruled the roost and the only pot that the woman was to stir was that in the kitchen. Ok, it wasn’t quite that bad, but being raised in a very conservative and religious home, it often felt that way and that was the message that I heard time and time again from the pulpit at our church. Let me tell you that my mother certainly was not one to roll over and play dead. If by chance she had something to say to my father, she said it. However, I never saw her as a strong woman and to this day I still do not. 

Facing divorce and raising a child on my own, I had finally began to find my inner strength. During the process, I have packed up myself, my belongings, my three year old daughter, rented the largest available U-Haul and moved to another state. I have gone to college and received my bachelor’s degree (the first in my family!). I will graduate this spring with my master’s degree. I have moved many times and now live in a new area in which I originally had no friends or family. I have found a way to pick up the pieces when I was sure that I could not and some how managed to put them back together. I entered an extremely abusive relationship and found the strength to leave. I have taken apart a toilet and replaced all of the valves (COMPLETELY taken apart the toilet!), replaced screen doors, hung light fixtures, etc. 

Most recently, I have purchased my first home in a time when home purchasing is supposed to be nearly impossible, yet I was able to accomplish this feat. My 14 year old daughter and I repainted the whole house, including the ceiling. We moved most of our belongings on our own, cleaned the old house and found that closure. Don’t get me wrong, credit is certainly due to some wonderful friends who pulled through for me. One friend came and helped paint twice and several friends pulled together and helped us to move on the “big day.” However, the reason I say that my daughter and I did most of it is because with the painting, we also used primer and we even painted the ceilings. Painting was a long haul. The moving, we had help with one U-Haul load which was the main load. However, we also brought several car loads over and when all was said and done, we had four U-Haul loads in which my daughter and I did three by ourselves. 

Back to the topic of finding strength (see how adequate my title of Meanderings of a Wandering Mind fit? LOL), yesterday was a day spent caulking the bathroom and hauling trash to the dump, all without a man. Don’t get me wrong, if there were a man available to do it, he would so be doing it! LOL As it is, there is no man and I find strength and pride in the fact that I was able to buy the right supplies, scrape out all the old caulk, and fill it in with new – and let me tell you, I did a nice job! In addition, a female friend hooked up her trailer, took me to the old house, we loaded up the trash, took it to the dump, and unloaded. Not only did I gain strength, she did, too. She is proud of herself for being able to hook up the trailer, tow it and especially be able to back it in – something that I know is not easy. 

It’s ironic how being forced to do the  things that we don’t want to do help to build our character and make us stronger. Often, if we can get someone else to do something for us, we do. I wonder how many self-improvement opportunities we miss out on because of this. I certainly would never have chosen the path that my life has ended up on, and yet I am grateful for it. It has made me who I am today and for the most part, I happen to like me.

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